Ted Gonder and a few friends at the University of Chicago scanned the South Side of their city at the depths of the recession back in 2009 and found poverty at its most crushing. They found liquor stores and check cashing operations. They found little sign of hope. They also found that only 13 states require students to take a financial literacy course in order to graduate high school and that the number of 18-24 year olds who declared bankruptcy has nearly doubled in the last decade.
Gonder and his friends banded together to create Moneythink, an initiative to put undergraduate financial mentors into urban high schools to chip away at the debt cycle—less as teachers with traditional curricula than as mentors with real world, relatable lessons they figured would resonate with their audience—think pop culture and professional sports. Basic budgeting and money management skills are hard enough to come by in high school, but what Moneythink is aiming to accomplish is even more ambitious: "rejuvenating urban America by mentoring the next generation of small business leaders." Gonder and gang want to get these high schoolers beyond debt and into self-reliant entrepreneurship.
What started as a scrappy service club three years ago in Chicago with a budget of $15,000 has since expanded to sixteen additional university chapters and is poised for further growth. Moneythink has gotten its due recognition lately, winning a White House Campus Challenge, our own GOOD Maker Challenge, and a $25,000 grant from the JP Morgan Chase Foundation.
Interested in joining a local chapter, becoming a guest speaker, or helping to launch a student venture? Learn more here.
Photo Courtesy of Moneythink